Excuse my French…But Fahamu Pecou is back in France. And this NEGUS is for real. #Imjustsaying. The Atlanta based artist’s latest exhibition entitled NEGUS in Paris is set to open this Thursday, at Backslash Gallery in Paris, France. In these latest paintings and drawings, Fahamu addresses the representations of black men in modern society, engaging in particular with the idea of Négritude as famously symbolized by Aimé Césaire and Léopold Sédar Senghor.
Black Americans can cite numerous anecdotes about the various uses of the word ‘black’, one striking example being actor Gwyneth Paltrow’s description of hip-hop superstars Jay-Z and Kanye West’s West Watch the Throne Tour. Paltrow posted a photo of the pair on her Twitter account, accompanied by the message “Niggas in Paris, for real”. Her use of the word “nigger” created a storm on her Twitter account although she was simply repeating the word “niggas” used by Jay-Z and Kanye West as part of the title for a song off their eponymous album. Often heard within black American society, the word when written down by a white person raises questions of legitimacy, and the matter was very widely debated. Is it possible for a white person to use the word “nigger” in the light of history’s heavy burden of racism and slavery?
The NEGUS in Paris exhibition, inspired by Jay-Z and Kanye West’s song ” Niggas in Paris”, constitutes an acerbic analysis that challenges a certain conformism, particularly that displayed by Black American culture, which can distort the image of Négritude within the public debate. With his characteristic wit and feel for satire, Fahamu Pecou offers timely observations on the various conflicts relating to black iconisation as triggered by this debate and their influence on popular culture….Pecou replaces the terms “niggas” with “Negus”, an Amharic word used to describe Ethiopian royalty in general, and Haile Selassie in particular. He uses this wordplay to subvert the endless hate-filled insinuations that surround use of the word “nigger”. The works in the exhibition feature a series of black Americans famous for their contributions to the history of Parisian art and culture, exploring their influence and distinction.
NEGUS in Paris runs through January. Take a closer look at some of the works from the show below. And if you’re susceptible to the Persian Persuasion make sure to stop by the opening this Thursday. Click here for more information.